Post-Snowden, the NSA's future rests on Admiral Rogers' shoulders

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As National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers seeks to repair the damage to the agency caused by leaks about its electronic spying programs, the abuses of government revealed in the wake of the Watergate scandal are very much on his mind.

While Rogers dismissed direct comparisons -- noting that the NSA programs exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 had all been deemed lawful -- he said he understood the concerns that have been raised about balancing individual privacy rights against security needs.

"We have been down that road in our history, and it has not always turned out well. I have no desire to be part of that," Admiral Rogers, 54, told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington. Still, Admiral Rogers' declaration that he wants to continue the NSA's controversial search of phone records, known as metadata, has prompted critics to question if the new director really favors change at all.

In his first interview since taking office, Admiral Rogers, a four-star Navy admiral, stressed the need for transparency and accountability. To repair the agency's ties with Internet and telecommunications firms, as well as US allies, the NSA has to shed some of its secretive culture and be more candid about what it is doing, he said.

Post-Snowden, the NSA's future rests on Admiral Rogers' shoulders